While Forrester Research classifies the entire digital asset management (DAM) market as “immature” in the Q2 2012 Forrester Wave Digital Asset Management for Customer Experience report, OpenText and Autonomy are judged as “leaders of the pack” for having strong, enterprise-class solutions.

To be evaluated in the Forrester Wave report, DAM vendors must have annual revenues of at least US$ 5 million, demonstrate vision and thought leadership, have a track record with enterprise clients with more than US$ 500 million in annual revenue, and generate interest from Forrester clients.

Following is a brief overview of Forrester’s analysis of each of the 12 DAM vendors included in the report, listed from “leaders” to “risky bets.”

Leaders -- OpenText, Autonomy

Forrester credits Waterloo, Ontario-based enterprise content management (ECM) vendor OpenText with having an “emerging customer experience management (CXM) vision.” This vision includes support for collaboration, taxonomy and search in OpenText’s flagship Media Management product. However, Forrester advises OpenText to include comprehensive video and search support in future iterations of Media Management.

Meanwhile, Forrester says Cambridge, UK-based Autonomy (purchased by HP last year) focuses on “key industry megathemes” such as multichannel content creation and intelligent search in its Virage MediaBin product, which is inherited from a purchase of Interwoven in 2009. Although Autonomy is cited as staying ahead of the video curve, Forrester cautions Virage MediaBin is an “expensive and heavy footprint solution” which can be difficult to implement and is not for beginners.

Strong Performers: ADAM, Adobe, North Plains, MediaBeacon, EMC

Among the strong performers, Ghent, Belgium-based ADAM Software gets points for having a “comprehensive, forward-thinking vision” to use DAM as part of a larger CXM/marketing execution ecosystem, but is advised to increase functionality for search, audio and video. San Jose, California-based Adobe, which obtained the CQ DAM product in its 2010 purchase of Day Software, has tightly integrated CQ DAM with its many other digital content management tools, but needs to strengthen support for time-based assets, collaboration tools and taxonomy management.

Toronto, Ontario-based North Plains is a legacy DAM vendor with “impressive” across-the-board functionality, but lacks a comprehensive CXM strategy, mostly selling its DAM solution as a siloed application to clients using DAM as a standalone tool.

Minneapolis, Minnesota-based MediaBeacon exclusively focuses on its MediaBeacon R3volution DAM application, which features strong search, widget-based user interface, and integrations with Cognizant and IBM technologies. However, Forrester says Mediabeacon has an “unusual number” of customer complaints regarding customer service and scalability and lacks a greater CXM vision.

And Hopkinton, Massachusetts-based EMC is a legacy vendor which positions its DAM tool as part of a larger ECM suite, delivering rich media via a partnership with SDL Tridion. Despite its DAM tool having potential, Forrester says EMC needs to bring it out from the ECM suite and make it part of a comprehensive CXM strategy.

Contenders: Celum, Canto, Widen, Xinet

Linz, Austria-based celum is one of the newer vendors evaluated by Forrester (founded in 2000), and focuses exclusively on supporting marketing departments across verticals with functionality for managing brands, products and general content. Forrester says celum’s primary challenge is to “live up to its comprehensive vision” with better functionality across the board.

San Francisco, California-based Canto focuses its Cumulus DAM solution on general purpose, line of business use cases. Despite good overall functionality, Forrester advises that Cumulus works best as a siloed application and is not well integrated into the broader CXM/marketing ecosystem.

Madison, Wisconsin-based Widen Enterprises offers a SaaS-based product with small IT footprint, lower cost, and ease of implementation that has proven especially popular in the manufacturing vertical. However, to obtain “best of breed” status, Forrester says Widen must create a “more comprehensive strategic vision of DAM as a CXM solution.”

Berkely, California-based Xinet, which was recently purchased by North Plains (see above), is popular with advertising users, but is starting to align its strategy around a broader CXM focus. Forrester says Xinet must continue focusing on this goal.

Risky Bet: Extensis

Although Forrester cites Extensis as “targeting the creative professional with a lightweight, easy-to-implement solution,” the vendor has a lack of across-the-board functionality, especially in workflow, search and taxonomy, and audio/video.

Forrester says Extensis must strengthen its capabilities in these areas or else remain a “complementary niche” product for smaller workflows.